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New Trails and Gear Shed in Patten, Maine

New Trails and Gear Shed in Patten, Maine

Trail Accelerator Grant Case Study

Posted: March 7, 2024
five mountain bikers pause while riding in Maine during sunset

“So really, at the heart of it, these trails will provide access,” said Outdoor Sport Institute Assistant Director (and former IMBA Trail Solutions Project Manager) Steve Kasacek. This encompasses the ethos of the burgeoning mountain bike-optimized trail development throughout central and north-central Maine: access to areas previously inaccessible and access to healthy outputs for a spectrum of ages and abilities.

If you’re no stranger to IMBA’s blogs, you’ve read about this progress in Maine for some years now. Since 2018, IMBA’s worked alongside Katahdin Area Trails (KAT) and partnered with the New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) and Outdoor Sport Institute (OSI) to bring the first bike-only gravity trail to the state. The trail systems in Millinocket and Hammond Ridge now boast nearly 20 miles of trails and an active gear library (Millinocket Memorial Library/Katahdin Gear Library) in the center of Millinocket to lower the barrier of entry to quality equipment.

After experiencing success, a similar model is spreading less than an hour north, and IMBA, KAT, and OSI are partnering with the Elliotsville Foundation Inc. on bringing more trails close to home near Patten.

Hatching a Plan for Patten

In July 2022, Elliotsville Foundation partnered with IMBA to create a concept plan for their property in Patten, Maine. Steve Kasacek remembers that summer trip up to northern Penobscot County well. He met with Susan and Mark Adams, Recreation Managers for Elliotsville Foundation Inc. (EFI), and helped them understand their physical landscape and the feasibility for trails on that landscape. Their vision included a gear shed, a small classroom space, and a retreat venue. “I also met with the community and EFI, on their front porch no less, discussing the planning process and what the community wanted to see,” said Steve. Those discussions shaped the concept plan for a year-round, shared-use trail system that includes cross-country ski trails, hike/bike singletrack, and bike-only singletrack.

“The trails concept plan that Steve laid out starts right outside the door of the PBOC [Peavey Brook Outdoor Center], which has an accessible bathroom/shower. The wider green trails we hope will get some use with adaptive biking as well and folks are already snowshoeing on it this winter,” said Susan. Access to affordable gear is crucial for this area. “The area we are located in has a higher percentage of people close to the poverty level, so the last thing money is spent on is high-quality gear,” explained Susan.

These gear sheds are also an asset for fly-in visitors to the area who don’t have the ability to bring their own gear.

IMBA Trail Solutions Planner/Project Manager, Liz Grades designs trails near Patten, Maine in May 2023.
"IMBA Trail Solutions planner Liz grades designs trails near patten, maine"

Trail Accelerator Grant Awarded & Construction Begins

In 2023, the Elliotsville Foundation was the recipient of an IMBA Trail Accelerator grant that funded the initial trail design at PBOC. IMBA planners laid out nearly 3 miles of trail in May. Almost immediately after flagging, KAT trail crews built 1.2 miles in Patten and plan to build 1.8 more by the end of 2024.

Liz Grades and Susan Adam look over plans before Liz begins design work in Patten.
"two women looking at a digital map"


The start of the Peavey Brook Outdoor Center outside Patten.
"A building interior with only studs and plywood "

Steve’s new role with OSI includes directing that trail crew. “[KAT trail crews] employs area high school and college-aged young adults for trail maintenance and building,” said Steve. This young crew’s mileage in 2023 consisted of beginner-friendly singletrack that flows, rolls, and accommodates multiple user types. Located in the Acadian Plains and Hills ecoregion, the terrain in the area is very rolling with little elevation change and mellow slopes, punctuated by spruce and beech throughout, so beginner-friendly trails lend themselves well here.

KAT trail crews. // Steve Kasacek
"A crew of 5 young trail builders work to build trails"

This year (2024), expect a bit more challenge in the KAT trail crew’s builds. “We built the green access loop first and will now be expanding with an [intermediate] loop and [beginner] gravity [line],” added Steve.

KAT trail crews. // Steve Kasacek
"A person in an orange excavator builds trails"

Another important access facet of these new additions to the Patten/PBOC area is their novelty – these trails help fill the “trail desert” of this particular area and will offer non-motorized trails for multiple neighboring communities. Much of this development was with youth in mind, but also the aging populations. “Maine is the oldest state in the country (average age) and many of our rural towns have a healthy population of older people,” added Steve, “Accessible beginner-friendly trails appeal to both youth and older people.”

IMBA will continue this series on the progress of trail development in Maine with a follow-up on concept plans for an area southeast of the Appalachian Trail’s 100-Mile Wilderness.

About the author
Liz Chrisman portrait

Liz (she/her) grew up pedaling a garage sale 10-speed on the dirt roads of the Arkansas River Valley and on tarmac throughout college. While finishing her master's program, a coworker handed her a rigid Gary Fisher, drove into the Ouachitas and they conquered mileage on the IMBA EPIC Womble…

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